sonsMIFF #9: Kimberly Reed’s documentary about her unusual family Prodigal Sons had so many twists I don’t even know where or how to begin. Perhaps the easiest way is to just set it all out in a list [spoiler alert!]:

  • Kimberly used to be Paul. She’s now a very attractive blond-haired woman – I would never have guessed she was transsexual unless you had told me. While Kimberly is now a woman physically, she’s still attracted to women, so her girlfriend is a lesbian;
  • Kimberly has an older adoptive brother, Marc, who had a car accident in his early 20s and had to have part of his brain removed;
  • Marc has always had an inferiority complex around Kimberly/Paul because they grew up attending school in the same class. Paul was the quintessential popular high achiever – the high school quarterback who got straight As, the man that Marc always wished he was. Kimberly and Marc have been estranged for many years, mainly because Marc couldn’t accept that Kimberly had become Paul;
  • Marc decided to find out about his natural parents and discovered that he was the son of Rebecca Welles, the grandson of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth; and
  • As a result of Marc’s accident, he now has to take medication for his violent mood swings. In a fit of rage he punches Kimberly when she visits his home for the first time, and he wields a knife at the family on Christmas Eve. He voluntarily admits himself into a psychiatric hospital.

RM thought the film was quite exploitative, as Reed had a camera with her everywhere and filmed even the most intimate moments. Personally I thought that beyond the sensational revelations, the film was an interesting study of families, siblings, love and acceptance.